Double Buffered

A Programmer’s View of Game Design, Development, and Culture

Age of Conan: How to Not Run a Community

Posted by Ben Zeigler on July 11, 2008

I’m not playing Age of Conan any more, but I’m still following it’s development. There are still a wide variety of technical problems, as evidenced by this Shacknews article with the hilarious headline: “Age of Conan Dev Addresses Gender Equality, Females to Be as Powerful as Males in 3-4 weeks”. In case you haven’t been following it, female characters attack with a slower animation but the same damage, and thus have significantly lower DPS than male characters. The cause of this bug is design experience (CoH had similar bugs at launch), but the fact that it’s taken them this long to acknowledge something that has been frequently mentioned on the boards since closed beta is indicative of very poor QA and community relations.

This isn’t the only recent example, either. A week or so ago, a set of fake patch notes got spread around the official forums. Go read them, they’re a good combination of speculation and wishlist items, correctly written in mmo-developer style. I knew it was fake when I read “Feat tooltips in general will now give much more specific details as to what the actual feat does.” because that’s such an important feature that I suspect AoC will never actually deliver. Anyway, the reason I have to link to the IGN boards is that instead of addressing the fake patch notes in some sort of reasonable way (an official note to say that they’re fake, but that they acknowledge the fans desires) they instead purged any threads that mentioned it. This just lead to everyone on the board thinking they were leaked instead of faked, and raised their expectations while simultaneously creating confusion.

So when they released the actual patch, the forum reaction ranged from mildly disappointed to indignant.  Also I’ve seen 3 different versions of the patch notes, and as far as I can tell the US forums never get an official mod-created patch notes thread, which is insane. They instead choose to sticky some random thread made by a user that links to the EU patch notes, which may not even be identical. Then you have to go look at the user-created undocumented patch notes, which go over the various nerfs and extra bugs added by the patch. In fact, the patch is probably a sum negative for player fun, which is not what you want in a patch that’s been hyped up. Players are waiting for a bug, game changing patch in the near future, and I doubt heavily it’s coming. You won’t be hearing any more subscription number announcements from Funcom, because I’m certain they’re losing a big chunk of their audience.

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One Response to “Age of Conan: How to Not Run a Community”

  1. Mike said

    Keep it up, JZig…I’m reading. 🙂

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